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Thoughts While Walking the Dog
Memories of a Jewish Childhood
By Lynn Ruth Miller

A Love Map For The New Milennium

Love is deep, a mystery-
Who wants to understand its every particular?
Mrs. Brown

When I look back on my search for love, I realize that my route has changed radically from what it once was. In those long ago days when my hormones raged and my senses were aflame, I raced toward a rainbow of diamonds, tulle and fantasy. Indeed, in my salad days, the style was to fall in love with the look of a person and picture the life you would lead if you could trap him into a commitment. It wasnít until after marriage (we did that in those days) that the rose colored glasses were smashed into realistic smithereens.

I can still remember whirling in a maelstrom of emotion over a tall pharmacist named Paul Benjamin. His sterling qualities were that he looked like Gregory Peck, he was mysteriously silent (I later learned he had a severe speech impediment) and he drove a yellow ford convertible. I satisfied my overpowering lust by driving past Paul Benjaminís house and staring at his gleaming symbol of masculinity parked on the curb in front of his rooming house.

In our last century, every girl worthy of her cycle had nabbed what she thought was her Galahad by her twentieth year. Every year after that her prospects diminished and she was forced to grab the first male who didnít turn green at the sight of her or face a lonely future too ghastly to contemplate.

When I was twenty-one, I convinced myself I was in love with the pimply boy who was courting my college roommate. I bided my time until she had the good sense to marry another and I made my move. Only then did I discover the horrid truth: The only characteristic he shared with my heroes on the silver screen was that, like Clarke Gable, he didnít give a damn.

Women in the second millennium have altered their goals and I think that is a very good thing. They donít waste their time in long, boring courtship. Instead, they find their loves on the Internet. Before they consider forming a relationship (note that this term does not demand either a ring or a commitment) they test their candidateís prowess in the bedroom, in the kitchen and behind the wheel of an automobile. They examine his diet to be sure he is in touch with his body before he dare touch theirs. They never allow their prospect to treat them to dinner or a movie because if they do, they will feel obligated to offer demeaning favors in return.

Gender roles are no longer so clearly defined these days and that gives us all greater flexibility to become ourselves. In my day, each partner knew his duty and did it. The wife cooked, cleaned and complained about her husband on the telephone while dinner was simmering on the stove. Her husband paid the bills.

Modern marriages are not based on such a limiting mindset. The female half of the couple is most often a high-powered executive or an independent entrepreneur. It is the male half who minds the nest, irons and picks her up at the transit station. If he hasnít put something in the slow cooker, she orders a carry-out dinner and he picks it up. Wasting time simmering anything on the stove is passť.

Women these days have a new set of priorities. They demand a partner who shares every responsibility from mothering to family finance. The new brand of couple listens to each other, gives each other plenty of space and makes sure each understands whose problem it is when they disagree. Should the male half of the duo get bull-headed (a genetic characteristic) the feminine partner allows him to present his case to an impartial marriage coach she has selected, before they decide to live apart and divide their assets equally.

The enlightened woman of the second millennium never, ever makes that foolish promise of yesteryear to love, honor and obey anyone until death. She knows better. Thanks to the wisdom of medical science and the increase in female physicians, the concept of remaining with one man for an entire life span makes no sense. Most women outlive their husbands by at least thirty years. Even in the worst situation, a wife can hang on to the hope that if she piles on the French fries and breads enough lamb chops, the thorn in her side will vanish while she is still in her prime.

When she shops for a replacement she is a lot smarter than she was the first time around. Her hormones have settled down and the common sense they obliterated steps forward. She evaluates the next oneís personal hygiene, takes inventory of his kitchen and discusses his IRA. The mature modern woman doesnít waste her energy on a remodel job. Instead she finds a partner who has been well trained by his mother. She doesnít care that much about looks, but she insists on a good sense of humor, a solid set of dentures and a cholesterol count in proportion to the length of time she is willing to stick with the guy.

Itís a new world out there, one so multifaceted that no women need be without a mate who can support her lifestyle, preserve a sense of romance and know when to stop work to play. The miracle of this millennium is that these qualities need not be in the same person.

The truth is that the love map of the twentieth century promised heaven but only gave women dishpan hands. The road to romance in the twenty-first, freed them to become their glorious selves while their partners take out the trash. It has become a delightful route that is so exciting no one cares if they get there or not. And I think that is a very good thing.

Married men die younger than single men
Because they want to
My father.

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